PVT - Church With No Magic
Wed 21st Jul, 2010 Music Reviewsin
The very first difference you will find in Church With No Magic to all their previous PVT material is that there are vocals now.
In the 1910s, as motion picture technology began to progress, cinema began a shift away from silent cinema towards their sound counterparts, or “talkies”. While many actors and actresses made the transition easily, others found difficulty in the sudden need to remember lines and to annunciate phrases for microphones surrounding them. Some simply did not have voices suitable to be heard. Their careers were quickly curtailed by the rise of new technology.
PVT (or Pivot, if you don’t mind the high legal price of actually being able to pronounce a band name) have a lot to learn from those actors.
After the brilliance of O Soundtrack My Heart, an album that lay in a ghastly haze between the worlds of math rock and Vangelis era electronica, you could feel the need for the band to create something with some balance of valour, creativity and sonic depth.
With Church percussion fills the dark spaces between sounds, harmonies are utilised to a larger extent, and Richard Pike delivers vocals that are more akin to the chanting of hymns than actual singing. On Window, he proclaims his own credo “I won’t slip/I won’t change/I won’t fall”; his distinctive annunciation of the letter “I” looped infinitely.
Where PVT falter, and a clear sign that maybe the transition has gotten the better of the band, is in the album’s mix. There is an eagerness to place the vocals on top of the soundscape the band create, instead of letting it blend into it. Only towards the second half of the album does the latter occur. The beginning of such exchange, The Quick Mile, has Richard battling with brother Lawrence Pike’s drums, as he laments about loss with a rough falsetto. An immediate, dark and hollow atmosphere is created which is thankfully sustained.
Church still contains many of the most recognisable PVT sounds. They build instrumental and electronic sounds that feel dramatic without being histrionic, anthemic without being patronising and deep without being convoluted. Their skill not only places them on the forefront of Australian musicians, but amongst the best in the world. On Church, they reiterate this fact with beautiful harmonies, distorting electronic sounds and violent basslines.
They have brought upon themselves a transition that can either be seen as another interesting step forward, or an unnecessary step back. It’s not one they have completely grasped upon on Church With No Magic, yet the album still proves that they are light-years ahead of most musicians in this world.